31 December 2009

New Year's Resolution

I usually don't make a special resolution on New Year's Eve or Day because I think everyone should resolve -- every day of the year -- to be a better person tomorrow. That fact aside, I make the following New Year's resolution: to watch more of Sheldon Copper being brilliant.

Oh, wait! Someone has assembled clips from "The Big Bang Theory" showing Sheldon doing just that. You will find them below. (Part 9 has the now-and-forever-classic "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" bit right at the beginning.)

P.S. You can now go on Amazon and pre-order "TBBT" season three.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

30 December 2009

Can you spell R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y?

Two years ago today I wrote a blog entry titled Can You Spell R-e-c-e-s-s-i-o-n? with my thoughts on the economy in 2008. A year later, I wrote an entry titled Can You Spell D-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n? with my thoughts for 2009.

This year, I offer my thoughts for 2010 -- and the recovery ahead. Because, let's face it: even though things COULD be worse, they probably won't get worse than they have been this year.

Let's start with some basic indicators, like unemployment: This year saw a national high unemployment of 10.2%. That has dropped a little, but 10% is still pretty impressive. It's even worse if you live in California, where the unemployment rate hit a high of 12.5%, Nevada (13%) or Michigan (15.1%). It is worse for teens, whose unemployment hit a record high of 25.5%

Another indicator is the record high price of gold at $1,217. Everyone knows the price of gold goes up as troubles worsen. Then there are the rates of foreclosures on houses. While foreclosure rates have been decreasing, and housing prices have leveled off in some areas and even started to rise in others, they are still high.

So, yeh, things are bad, but I am starting to think prosperity is right around the corner.

Why? Well, for one thing we have people in political office who clearly have an intent to actually attempt to make things better -- for everyone, not just the rich or well connected. For another, the country will keep going, and to go it needs products and services, and to get those it needs workers. So while many business are cautious about increasing staffing levels, they will have to increase staffing and productivity to deal with shoppers who have been slow to spend, but who need to start replacing worn out products -- and who might just be itching for a little something special, like a trip, or new car.

The economy could go either way -- and if we are not careful, we will lose all the gains we have made in the past two years. The U.S. economy specifically and the world economy in general is strengthened by stability in overseas markets -- especially Europe and Asia which both seem on firmer footing.

So, while I still think it best to not change your employment or family situation for at least the next six months, now might be a good time to loosen the belt a little, allow for a little more discretionary spending where practical, but still keep saving some money and paying off those credit bills. Try to live a little more frugally, paying cash where practical, and not spending beyond your means.

If we can all hold out another six months, I think we will start seeing the turnaround we have been hoping for.

24 December 2009

They Should Call it "Obvious-atar"

It is funnier than words can say that some people are making a big fuss about the "hidden" messages in "Avatar." Hidden? These "messages" could not be more obvious even if James Cameron himself were standing in front of each viewer slapping him in the face saying "LOOK! HERE'S THE MESSAGE!"

Anti-war? Obviously.

Pro-environment? Obviously.

Patronizing that a "white man" comes to save the indigenous population? Sure, a little bit.

Hidden? No way, man!

You can read the latest "revelation" about the hidden messages here.

(Post script: The author of this piece sure must think people are idiots. I mean, it is not like trying to decipher the actually hidden references in something like "Citizen Kane" for example. I sure hope this is not an example of the level of intellectual thinking that we find in younger people. If it is, we are all doomed!)

13 December 2009

Monday's "Bang"

You might remember that we attended a taping of "The Big Bang Theory" on Tuesday, 24 November, as I wrote about here. That episode airs tomorrow. Take a listen and see if you can hear my laugh.

12 December 2009

A Dam Shame

Phoenix (and many other cities) get a lot of their energy from dams along the Colorado River, but I would totally favor dismantling all the dams and letting the water run its natural course, once again, to the sea.

Although they have been key to the progress of humans, restrictions on nature just bother me -- like damming a river or erecting levees to create an unnatural river course. It is probably too late now, but I really wish humans had evolved to live alongside nature, not tear it apart and destroy it just for a few moments of profit. Maybe, slowly, humans are beginning to realize the importance of working with -- not against -- nature. I guess we cannot undo hundreds of years of damage, but maybe we can slowly work to bring back the natural course of things.

An article in our local daily reports on plans to start allowing regular floods down the Colorado River -- naturally occurring events that were stopped by the building of the Glen Canyon dam in 1966. Over the decades, this lack of flooding has damaged habitat and endangered wildlife. By creating occasional artificial floods, we might be able to correct some of the damage that has been done.

You can read more about the new plans here.

04 December 2009

A Bit of "Flash"

When we took the all-day tour of the Warner Brothers Studio in October, we got to walk around many behind-the-scenes areas: the huge costume house, the set department and the massive prop storage area. When our guide was wandering off telling others on our tour of the famous movies in which certain WB props appeared, I happened to notice a set piece reserved for a television show that had recently made its debut: "Flash Forward."

I told Matt to take a photograph of the piece and a close up of the identification tag. "Why do you want that?" he asked. "So we can look for it in an upcoming episode and I can do a blog entry about it."

Well, the piece appeared in last night's episode in the scene where Zoey goes to visit the mother of her apparently-soon-to-be-dead fiancé, Dimitri.

Click on the photograph. Above, you will see the cabinet at the WB prop house and a close up of the ID tag. Underneath, behind Zoey, you will see the same cabinet.

Isn't Hollywood cool?

02 December 2009

Inside Job

Of course, you all know of the totally cool case study houses designed as part of a program overseen by the magazine "Arts & Architecture" from the 1940s through the 1960s. They were used as a way to demonstrate new ideas in building and created iconic houses (like these apartments in Phoenix, pictured) which are readily recognized today.

Did you ever stop to think who set up the interiors of those cool houses? Well, it was a Long Beach (CA) furniture company called Frank Bros. You can read more about their contribution to mid-century design here.

You can read a concise background on the case study project here.

And, if you are so inclined, you can order the totally cool Taschen book about the case study houses through this Amazon link.